Comstock Mining gets state permit

Comstock Mining got some good news and some less than good news about its Gold Hill project this month.

The good news for Comstock: The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection issued the company an air-quality permit authorizing construction that will enable production of gold and silver by the end of this year.

"This is the final major operating permit that enables our production goals for this year," said company CEO Corrado De Gasperis.

He said that enables the company to hire enough people to finish construction and install ore-crushing facilities and other equipment needed to run the mine.

"We look forward to the first pour, production growth on our Comstock properties, and positive cash generation from the starter mine," De Gasperis said. He said the company hopes to produce 20,000 ounces of gold a year once up and running.

But the federal Environmental Protection Agency sent company officials a letter damping that enthusiasm a bit. The letter asks for information about the project's potential impact on the Carson River Mercury Site in Storey and Lyon counties.

The letter directs Comstock to identify the nature and quantity of materials generated, treated, stored or disposed of within the mercury site, the nature or extent of any potential release of hazardous materials and contaminants, and the ability to pay for any cleanup of a spill if that occurs.

It directs the company to answer the EPA's questions within 30 days and to provide information about other parties that may be able to help in the investigation of the site.

The company's plan to begin mining its extensive holdings in the Comstock District and Gold Hill area have drawn strong protests from area residents, who contend that it will cause pollution, endanger their health and degrade their quality of life.

Members of the Comstock Residents Association praised the federal involvement as a significant development. They also have filed an appeal of that state permit.

"Now I think we will have the level of oversight that this project should have had all along," said Dan Eggenberger of Virginia City.

Robin Cobbey of Gold Hill, head of the association board, said the EPA letter is encouraging to members who she said are "actively exploring all avenues to protect the integrity of the national landmark and the health and well-being of the residents and the visitors who support the local economy."


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